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Psychological Support Hub

A support service for frontline workers, their families, care home workers and military support personnel.

The School of Psychology and School of Community Health and Midwifery are working together to offer a free online Psychological Support Hub for frontline workers and their families, those connected to care homes and those in the military, who are providing support in the national effort against COVID-19. The service will operate using video conferencing, where you can speak to a member of the support hub team. There are two parts to what the Psychological Support Hub can potentially offer.

Structure of support

Tier 1: Maximising your resources

This level of support will include four individual video-conference sessions, each lasting around one hour. The support team member will explore some relaxation techniques with you, ways to enhance coping, suggestions for improving sleep patterns (if relevant) and using what resources you already have. The last session will be a review where you can feedback on what you have found helpful and recap on anything that has been covered. The sessions can be twice a week but will not be any more often than that. This will allow for some practice and reflection on anything that has been explored.

Tier 2: Coping with a distressing event(s)

This level of support is for those who have experienced an event connected to COVID-19 that was outside the normal range of expectations and caused considerable distress. It will specifically provide some brief EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing) online therapy. This therapy is used to help people deal with acute distressing events. It cannot be an event that is on-going. Rather, it is for specific experiences that you have been exposed to in relation to COVID-19, which you are not recovering from as quickly as you would like or expected. It could, for example, include the loss of a colleague or a family member, as a result of COVID-19. Importantly, this therapy will not look at your past experiences; it will just focus on those recent events connected to COVID-19 to try and bring some emotional recovery. This therapy is likely to last around six sessions, at least weekly. Some more information and helpful guides on this can be found on the EMDR website.

Further information

At the moment we are going to be prioritising those who are on the frontline – doctors, nurses, NHS/private health support staff, those working in care homes and the military. This extends to their family members. Currently, we can only work with those over the age of 18 and we are prioritising those connected to the North West of England.

Tier 1 may be sufficient and all you want to engage in. Tier 2 will be recommended for those who we feel may benefit. You are not expected to do both. There may be some instances where someone may not complete Tier 1. This will depend on their circumstances.

In the first instance you simply need to email, explaining what you need support with. You will be contacted by one of the lead clinicians. Once you have been in contact with them it may be decided that another option may be a better fit. So, getting in touch with us does not mean that you will automatically be entered into the Hub; it just means that we can see what the best option is. You may also decide it is not something for you.

We will ask you to complete an online questionnaire and will give you a unique code to add to that questionnaire. The questionnaire will take 10 minutes to complete and will help us identify your needs, evaluate what we are doing and, importantly, if we need to change it. The questionnaire is completed anonymously but your unique code will be given to your identified support team member so they can see your questionnaire responses prior to beginning sessions with you.

The support staff will complete a consent form with you in session 1. They will do this after explaining what will happen. The consent form will have your name on it but it will be kept separate from the questionnaires. It will be sent to a hub clinical lead, who will store it securely.

You can leave the sessions at any time. You are not expected to continue to engage if this is not the right time for you, or if you feel it is not right for you. This will be covered on a consent form.

We will, however, ask you to complete some post-support questionnaires, again using your unique code. This just allows us to evaluate the service. These questionnaires will ultimately be looked at as a group so we can see the impact the service is having.

Sessions will be run online by appointment using Skype Business or Zoom Professional, depending on your platform preference and also to what the support team member has available to use.

We will use both audio and video during sessions but if you feel unable to use video we can just use audio for Tier 1 support.

To have a comfortable and safe space to be on your own, with no one able to hear/overhear what is being discussed. The room must be free of distraction and noise.

We also expect you not to share meeting links (including placing it on a public network). This is for your protection. You also need a reliable internet connection that will allow for a session to be completed. We expect no video or audio recording of the session, in any form.

We would also like for you to arrange to have someone to talk to after the session and/or that you plan something relaxing/distracting for after the session.

Your engagement with the Online Psychological Support Hub is confidential; we will not report back to employers or family members. However there is an exception to this. We will ask you to provide two contacts to the support staff; 1.) Someone known to you who can provide you with immediate support, if you are experiencing a mental health crisis that you feel overwhelmed by; 2.) GP contact details in case we need to ask for support through a crisis team or similar support. This will happen if we are concerned about your mental health risk to yourself and/or risk to others. We will contact these individuals only if you express an intention to harm yourself or others. This is to protect you and it is more likely it will not be needed.

The support worker will keep some notes to help them support you through the sessions. This is standard practice. These notes will be kept secure. Please note that, under data protection (GDPR), any data we collect on you is stored appropriately and for the allocated time period as indicated under data protection. If you would like more detail on this please contact one of the clinical leads below.

We will be using a range of support staff, all of who are trained in therapy delivery. They are not all university staff and may include several facilitators who are giving their time to this service. Tier 1 (Maximising our resources) will be covered by in-training therapists/psychologists, facilitators and also qualified therapists, where available. Tier 2 (Coping with a distressing event) will be covered only by fully trained EMDR (trauma) therapists, who are supervised. A qualified clinician will supervise all support staff.

Support for the service is also being given by the Coastal Child and Adult Therapeutic Services in Poulton-le-Fylde (CCATS), who are a community provider for the Hub.

Other support

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, a provider of acute and community health services to a population 550,000 people, with over 8500 staff, is delighted to be supporting the development of this project. We have no doubt that there will be many people – some of our own staff included – who will benefit both personally and in terms of their work, from the expertise of the clinicians involved.

Professor Jane L. Ireland: Online Support Hub Clinical Lead for School of Psychology and Lead for frontline workers and their families

Dr Gillian Rayner: Online Support Hub Clinical Lead for School of Community Health and Midwifery and Lead for frontline workers and their families

Dr Carol Ireland, School of Psychology: Lead for care homes

Dr Michael Lewis, School of Psychology: Lead for uniformed services

There is also a service evaluation lead – Dr Simon Chu – who will be looking at how well the service is running and the changes it is producing.

Although we do not expect any problems, we understand issues can arise and it is important that everyone has a clear route for discussing this. If you are unhappy, the first point of call is one of the clinical leads, who will try and resolve the issue(s) with you. This may include discussing matters with the support team member who has been working with you, should you wish this to happen. In such instances, we cannot maintain confidentiality, as the issue would have to be discussed with them.


Professor Jane L. Ireland: Online Support Hub Clinical Lead for School of Psychology and Lead for frontline workers and their families

Dr Gillian Rayner: Online Support Hub Clinical Lead for School of Community Health and Midwifery and Lead for frontline workers and their families

Dr Carol Ireland, School of Psychology: Lead for care homes

Dr Michael Lewis, School of Psychology: Lead for uniformed services